Weekly business rail, with small-business tips, BBB advice on selling your car and more.

Tip of the Week


Spring is a great time for small businesses to focus on cleaning up and organizing their technology. Doing so can make a business more productive and efficient and also reduce costs. Here are seven must-do spring-cleaning tasks for your small-business technology:


1. Appraise your security and protection programs. Ideally, your software settings should be programmed to check for security software updates automatically, but it's a good idea every now and then to manually run an update check.


2. Update other software that you use frequently. Checking for updates to programs such as accounting or inventory tracking software is important to make sure you're running the latest version. To do this, simply go on product manufacturers' websites to see if they have any available security updates, and follow the instructions for downloading and executing the updates.


3. Review your back-up system. Backing up your data is essential. If you don't already have a back-up system in place, spring is a great time to start using one. If you already use back-up technology, review how well it's working for you.


4. Organize documents on your PCs and in the cloud. When working with numerous documents on a daily basis, things can easily get unorganized and misplaced. Being able to quickly access documents improves efficiency for your organization and employees.


5. Maintain or upgrade your hardware. When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard with compressed air? Or wiped down the monitor with a static-free cloth? Or checked the battery in your wireless mouse? Spring is a great time to do those things, along with considering an upgrade to a wireless or Bluetooth mouse or keyboard. It's also a great time to research and check out new PCs on the market, such as ones that are more energy-efficient and easy to take on the go.


6. Give your printer some TLC. Printers tend to be one of the items no one thinks to maintain - if it prints, it's good. But like everything else, it's a good idea to do things like remove and empty paper trays to make sure no small bits of paper are trapped inside the printer, make sure components - such as the print cartridge - move smoothly, and check online for software updates from the printer manufacturer.


7. Don't forget about yourself. As important as it is to do some technology spring-cleaning around your business, it is equally important to remember to take some time for yourself and smell the flowers. Sometimes it's a good idea to disconnect and put your out-of-office message on.


- ARA


BBB Watch


When looking to sell your vehicle, you need to know how to get your car into the right hands. When working with a potential buyer, the Better Business Bureau recommends considering the following:


- Communicate with the potential buyer. Don't rely solely on email conversations. Meet face-to-face and be open and honest about your car's conditions. Many times buyers are good at vetting a car's conditions and will turn down your offer if it's not all you say it is. Keep all records of service so that the buyer can see proof that you have cared for the vehicle.


- First impressions matter. Consider getting the car cleaned and tuned up. By investing in the time to let them test ride your car, you'll know that the buyer is serious about making an offer.


- Don't overshare. Make notes for yourself that you can refer to while on the phone with a potential buyer. Keep them handy for when it comes time to talk about the car's maintenance history. When meeting with the buyer, meet in a neutral, well-lit location. Don't give them your home address.  


- Seal the deal. Give the potential buyer ample time to ask questions. This will help avoid problems in the future. Once you feel confident that you shared all of the details about the car, it will be time to start talking money. Also, always be honest with the buyer on the car's conditions.  


For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.


The List


According to Shine, here are items you should not buy at dollar stores:


- Vitamins and medicine


- Small appliances and electronics


- Light bulbs


Number to Know


$1 billion: Amount of money Facebook spent to buy photo-sharing company Instagram. It is Facebook’s largest acquisition ever.


Tech Talk


Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn recently resigned from his post. The company has struggled in recent years, largely in part because of Internet competition, and it recently announced plans to close stores.


GateHouse News Service